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Quentin Tarantino’s latest Once Upon a Time in Hollywood plays with a mix of grounded reality and fantasy in 1969 Los Angeles. Leonardo DiCaprio’s hot-shot actor character Rick Dalton may be one of the more fictional elements of the film, but Batman actor Adam West’s daughter found quite a few things she could compare with her late father’s early career. In her words:
That point in time in Hollywood history, that was the height of my dad's popularity, and it was like watching all these stories from my childhood come to life. The scenes where Rick Dalton is drinking and struggling with his insecurities, these are all things I know that my father went through. I had many conversations with him, specifically after Batman, about his struggle to get other roles.
In 1969, Adam West had just finished off his three season run on the classic Batman series with Burt Ward as the Dark Knight. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is dealing with a similar situation in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as a faded television star trying to navigate the changes in the industry with his stuntman Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth.
Adam West’s daughter, Nina Tooley, talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the many comparisons she found in the Quentin Tarantino film. For example, she said Al Pacino’s agent character Marvin Schwartz felt like it was “straight out of some of my dad’s stories” right down to the wardrobe, smoking and drinking.
In the beginning of the film, Pacino tells Rick Dalton he could do a Batman-type project in the future, referencing the television series’ famous use of “POW!” and “BANG!” When Timothy Olyphant’s James Stacy rides off the television set on a motorcycle, Tooley said she has a picture of her dad “in almost the same exact outfit on that exact motorcycle”. What a great testament to Tarantino’s recreation of 1969’s Hollywood.
Also, Adam West and Burt Reynolds played an actor/stuntman duo in 1978’s Hooper and the Batman legend starred in spaghetti western The Relentless Four in 1965, just as Rick Dalton dabbles in the movie.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood even features a radio commercial Adam West and Burt Ward did together back then for Batman which Quentin Tarantino reached out to the family for before adding to the end credits. Tooley continued with:
When we were contacted about the clip they used, we were excited to hear they were considering it. Quentin's people reached out to my mom, more than anything to get our blessing. I don't think they had to reach out to us, but it was a really nice gesture on their part.
Sharon Tate’s sister also had a positive reaction to Margot Robbie’s performance in the drama. Debra Tate said she cried when Tarantino invited her to view the film because Robbie’s performance sounded so much like her. She felt like she “actually got to see her sister again”. On the flip side, Bruce Lee’s daughter was unhappy with the portrayal of the action legend because he came off as an “arrogant asshole” in the film.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is in theaters now. Check out our ReelBlend podcast’s exclusive interview with writer/director Quentin Tarantino.